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review 2018-07-15 14:47
The Adventure Zone: Here There Be Gerblins by McElroys
The Adventure Zone: Here There Be Gerblins - Clint McElroy,Griffin McElroy,Justin McElroy,Travis McElroy,Carey Pietsch

This comes out this Tuesday, July 17th - order or pick it up from your local bookseller!

 

I don't do podcasts, but when a comic lands on my doorstep riffing on D&D I'm going to pay attention. The McElroy's have done a great job translating the often bizarre, silly and fun world of role-playing games into an entertaining adventure. I can't comment on how they've translated the podcast itself - where they play in real time - into the graphic novel form, but the jokes landed for me without any other experience.

Taako, Merle, and Magnus are intrepid adventurers on their way to liaise with...adventure. They intend to help Merle's cousin pick up treasure with the help of Barry Bluejeans. There are deeper currents to contend with, of course. Things start to go wrong, and its wonderful. The three must use what wits they have, spells and strength to get out alive and perhaps figure out what it is they're supposed to be doing. The ever-helpful DM occasionally pops in with a timely quip or reminder.

The art by Carey Pietsch (Lumberjanes) suits the tone of the book, and I can't wait for more. Not enough to bother with a podcast or anything, but still pretty impatient.

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review 2018-07-14 23:39
The Cabin at the End of the World by Paul Tremblay
The Cabin at the End of the World - Paul Tremblay

Eric and Andrew have taken their daughter Wen to a remote cabin in the woods to, what else, get away from it all. It is in a beautiful, remote spot on a lake. Wen has just turned seven and is enthralled with the world around her and her perspective informs the reader that she is old hat at the adopted with two dads business and completely precious.

Wen is outside when she is approached by a strange man. He's huge, friendly, and Leonard befriends her quickly despite her knowing better. He tells Wen that her daddies are going to have to let him and his friends in, that nothing is going to be her fault, and that her daddies have to help them save the world.

I was captivated by this, make no mistake. But there were elements of this that, while important to the plot, I couldn't accept as a reader. In many ways it was too unrelenting, too dark. An apocalypse novel shouldn't be light, but there was too much left unsaid by the last page for me to get over what had happened and call it fair.

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review 2018-07-14 23:15
Plum Rains by Andromeda Romano-Lax
Plum Rains: A Novel - Andromeda Romano-Lax

It is 2029 and the first world is troubled by an aging population compounded by a worldwide fertility crisis. In Japan this crisis has led to the importation of immigrant workers to care for the elderly, but the culture and the politics make it incredibly difficult for workers. All are required to pass rigorous language tests if they wish to stay in the country. The development of smart technology and robots are also being used to cover the needs of a less and less able-bodied population.

Angelica Navarro is a nurse for an elderly woman, Sayoko, in Tokyo, her job seemingly secure because of Sayoko's resistance to most modern medical appliances. Then, Sayoko's son gives her a new kind of care-giving robot with sympathetic technology that allows it to educated itself on its owner's needs. Angelica can only watch as a bond begins growing between the two and fear what will happen to her.

This is one of the better near-future novels I've ever read. It immerses the reader into modern life in Tokyo through Angelica's forced "outsider" perspective. Chapters from Sayoko give perspective on how Japanese culture adapted, or failed to adapt, after World War II and the upheavals of the 20th and 21st centuries.

I was a little frustrated at first with Angelica's antagonistic relationship with Hiro (the caregiver robot), but it is completely understandable once more of Angelica's background is revealed. Sayoko's seeming lack of compassion is settled as well. This book covers some complicated, fraught ground of race, globalization, ethical technology, pollution, and more with grace. There are no neat endings and people who are being victimized do not always make judgements that satisfy a reader. This was a great sociological science fiction novel, and I'm waiting for it to make greater waves in reader's circles in the coming months.

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review 2018-07-11 06:05
The Dinner List by Rebecca Serle
The Dinner List - Rebecca Serle

Sabrina thinks she is celebrating her 30th birthday with a quiet dinner with her best friend and old roommate. She arrives to find four extra people around the table.

This was a book with a cute premise and a frothy surface, but there was more to the plot then I expected at first. Sabrina at the prodding of her roommate wrote down a list of the five people, alive or dead, that she'd want to have dinner with. Over the years, if subconsciously, she's revised the list and now has the chance to speak with them all together. The night will have plenty more surprises.

Her guest list: her best friend Jessica who Sabrina feels growing away from her now that they have such different lives; her ex boyfriend of many years; her father, who left her and her mother when young for a new family and is now deceased; her professor, a father-surrogate and fount of wisdom; and Audrey Hepburn, because, duh.

'The Dinner List' is a fun book to read, even the serious parts. It begs the reader to ask the question of themselves. My list:

My husband, because, duh.
Grandma, my father's mother,
The woman who lived in our house for almost 100 years before us,
Glenway Wescott,
Shirley Jackson

There are so many possibilities - I liked how Serle examined this question so closely, the reasoning behind Sabrina original choices and why substitutions were made. A good idea, well explored.

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review 2018-07-11 05:21
Ship It by Britta Lundin
Ship It - Britta Lundin

OK, so I'm pretty split about this book. On one hand I found a lot of the humor refreshing, the immersion into a new-to-me nerdsphere entertaining, and on the other hand there are some valid complaints about our protagonist's fucked up view of the world and appropriate treatment of her fellow human beings.

Claire is 16 and feels isolated in her remote Texas town. She's fairly new there, but she doesn't have much in common with anyone there. Her true obsession is 'Demon Heart', a 'supernatural' (harhar) tv show involving a sexy demon hunter and the one demon he just can't quit. Or so it seems to her. Claire has written extensive erotic fanfic about the show and seems pretty modest, at first, about the following she has. 'Ship It''s plot really begins when Claire asks the obvious question - when are Mr. Demon Hunter and Demon gonna make out already? - and gets shut down pretty hard. The actor playing Smokey (Demon Hunter) in particular laughs off her concern. The internet happens, and producers are so afraid of the fallout - especially because of Claire's supreme internet levels - that they stage a contest and Claire wins a VIP access for the rest of Demon Heart's convention tour.

The problems of the book have nothing to do with Claire's fanfic, which is funny and sweet until it isn't - I won't go into that later, I'll just say it was fanfic being used for EVIL, but with her being some sort of asocial MarySue who is awesome and right all the time. This includes her own bullying tactics and internet revenge and callous treatment of those who are clearly her only friends. I'll sheepishly admit I glossed over a lot of that at first, focusing only on the shiny of it and the humor. I gave this four stars at first, and highly reccomended the book to others. On reflection, and turning over details of the story there's a lot that's unacceptable. I can't deny my initial positive response, however. So I'll let some stars stand.

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